Adding services to your editing business

Freelance editors often want to expand their services to meet client needs or just to add some variety to their day.

I sympathize completely! I started out as a copy editor and while I enjoyed applying a specific style guide consistently across 80,000 words, it felt dreary doing it day after day forever. So I moved into developmental editing fairly quickly.

A lot of copy editors make this move, I’ve noticed. While they may keep their copyediting clients, they also take on more complex copyedits (which may verge on development) as well as actual developmental editing projects.

Some copy editors who explore development ultimately decide developmental editing is not for them but understanding a little about it helps them advise their clients.

Similarly, for developmental editors, understanding the basics of copyediting is extremely helpful because sometimes sentence-level confusion and awkwardness lead to developmental problems.

Developmental editing work can shade into evaluation/assessment and coaching. Clients often want your professional feedback overall rather than a full developmental edit. A manuscript evaluation doesn’t take as much time as a developmental edit, so it can be less expensive for a client.

Or you can use a manuscript evaluation as the first round of a developmental edit with a second full developmental round done after the author’s revision (based on the first-round evaluation).

Sometimes clients want accountability help (“What if I revise a chapter each week and send it to you?”) or other kinds of coaching: “I need help brainstorming.” “I need help planning my next book.” Coaching can be a rewarding addition to plain old developmental editing.

Developmental editors also get clients who want them to fix problems, not just suggest what kinds of solutions could work. This is a type of coauthoring, often called book doctoring. It can be lucrative (but you need to charge for it). It’s a lot more work than a developmental edit is and should be compensated fairly.

Sometimes clients want the developmental editor to do all of the writing. Ghostwriting like this can also be lucrative but it is very time-consuming so it’s important to know how to charge effectively.

See Editorial Toolkit: Book Doctoring and Ghostwriting for more about how to add these services to your editing menu.

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